|Although Mount Union's
regular season results look pretty familiar, the offense has a new
look from the last time we saw them in the postseason.
Mount Union athletics photo by JT Higgins
The field of 32 has been released. And Bridgewater State is the big winner of the one-loss lotto, as the Bears got into the NCAA championship, even though they didn't get into the NEFC championship.
The NCAA opted for the one-flight bracket, rematching American Southwest Conference and Northwest Conference teams in the first round of the playoffs. North Central is the only team getting in a plane, heading to Cal Lutheran, with the winner playing either Linfield or Pacific Lutheran.
Bridgewater State was the only team we didn't project in, and there is plenty of reason not to project them in. Concordia-Moorhead is the team staying home.
Mount Union and Mary Hardin-Baylor cannot meet in the Stagg Bowl, being matched up in the national semifinals. Linfield, St. Thomas and UW-Oshkosh are on the other side of the bracket.
Aside from No. 1 and No. 2 being on the same side of the bracket, the two sides of the bracket are fairly balanced, at least once you get past the first round.
The NCAA did not announce the ranking of the overall top seeds. However, if tradition holds, one semifinal host is the first team listed in the bracket (Linfield) and the other semifinal host is the last team listed (Mount Union).
"If you (are) familiar with bracket set-up it is pretty evident what the committee intended to do with those four teams," said Anthony Holman, the NCAA's liaison for the Division III football championship. Based on past brackets, that confirms the following order of top seeds: Linfield 1, Mount Union 2, Mary Hardin-Baylor 3, St. Thomas 4. National committee chairman Brad Bankston did not deny this interpretation when asked by D3football.com.
If the top seed in each bracket advances to the national semifinals, this seeding would determine who hosts.